If Secrets are Sinister doesn’t live up to Longwave's breakout The Strangest Things — and it doesn’t — don’t give Longwave a hard time. They’ve been through the ringer. They have been on a three year hiatus, which derived somewhat from getting screwed by RCA when Sony and BMG merged. There’s nothing like corporate shenanigans that get my blood boiling. Good art gets the shaft because some bigwig thinks profit margins can be raised a tenth of a percent if the deck is reshuffled. Needless to say, if all the major labels go under, I won’t shed a tear. I’m betting you won’t either.
In the midst of such three-piece suit stupidity, Longwave survived — but just barely. The Strangest Things, one of the best modern rock albums of the decade, led them nowhere. Late 2008 saw the release of Secrets are Sinister, a rebirth overdue.
The new album is good, really good, one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of listening to recently; however, there is a problem. The opener, “Sirens in the Deep Sea” is one of the sappiest songs Longwave has had the misfortune of recording. It’s the only track on the record that fails. It’s overproduced and includes an uninspired synth accompaniment that makes me cringe. Once you get past that to the second track, though, everything levels out. “No Direction” pilfers the award for catchiest tune. Schiltz’s voice pleading, “Don’t you run away!” has slid through my consciousness at odd hours the last couple of days.
“Life is Wrong” swirls in waters of shoegazer, and several of the songs float in the clouds with the best of the band’s oeuvre. Specifically, “It’s True” will have you looking for the repeat button; and “Shining Hours” has Steve Schiltz singing wistfully, “I’m falling, I’m falling, we’re running, we’re running scared.” His voice starts to crack, and then the guitars — those luscious, hazy guitars that leave a buzz in your chest — they kick in and you're transported to a place where music is a Lazyboy recliner. Snuggle up. Close your eyes. Feel it all melt away.
“Satellites” employs a gutting bass line and swarming guitars to kickstart it and then slows to become the warmest track on the disc. It’s thoughtful, it's honest. “Your looking for answers/ You’re looking for satellites.” It’s a chronicling, it seems, of the search for significance — and one damn good song.
It’s unfortunate that one bad song makes it into the bunch, but thankfully, it doesn’t spoil the rest. This is certainly a must buy for modern rock, shoegazer fans. If Longwave can make a record like this after such previous duress — and after shaking off the rust of a long lull — their next record might be historic.